What do you actually do on a short term trip?

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Matt and Abbi McClure worked alongside the Swansons, the Dixons and the Lancasters in Morogoro, Tanzania.

We began our seven month AIM short term placement in Morogoro in August. We wanted to get a taste of what long term mission work was like, and previous visits to Africa and family connections meant we knew it could be somewhere we might transition to well. Jumping into such a well-established team in Tanzania could have been hard, but in reality it went incredibly smoothly and we were welcomed into the team as if we were there for the long term.

Martha’s story

Sewing Hope was started to support a local widow, Martha Komanya. Martha is from the Sukuma people group and has lived in Morogoro for 16 years, working as a tailor.

Martha was diagnosed with Aids in 2004. She was in a sorry state: sick, thin and on the brink of despair. She had unpaid rent and bills hanging over her and was unable to support her family from her local tailoring work. Martha is a member of the Morogoro Africa Inland Church, which is where she met AIM missionaries Cath Swanson and Amy Dixon. They saw a gap in the market and encouraged Martha to begin sewing bags, purses, bunting and other items which they could sell to westerners they knew in Morogoro.

Praising the Lord

Martha is now a different woman with a vibrant testimony! She has put on weight and is participating fully in church life. In 2012, through bunting sales alone, she paid for the construction of her new home. She is supporting her son who is studying at University to become a railway engineer. Her daughter, Joyce, also makes handmade jewellery and greeting cards. Every day I’ve worked with Martha she has praised the Lord for her success and blessings. The missionaries working in Morogoro would love to see Sewing Hope expand and serve more vulnerable ladies struggling to find an income. Sewing hope – it does what it says
on the label!

In Morogoro, the team’s goal is to build a sustainable training centre for pastors from the Africa Inland Church of Tanzania, called Sanga Sanga. Once complete, Tanzanian pastors and evangelists will continue their training through the Institute of Bible Ministry (IBM), which equips them to go and connect with the unreached. We had a real sense that the work there is contributing to AIM’s overarching mission objective to see ‘Christ-centred churches among all African peoples’, and it was a rewarding experience to help practically in any small way that we could.

Helping practically

Matt, a carpenter, helped with some of the practical building elements of Sanga Sanga, including a zero-graze cow shed. Abbi was involved with various bits of administration, the promotional and fundraising side of things, as well as a sewing project called Sewing Hope, which supports local women. Both of us found our time encouragingly productive, given the short time we were there. As our team leader, Tony, would say – “in terms of what you can do, you’re only limited by your imagination and finances”. This is so true – there are a wealth of opportunities in an environment such as this.

Celebrating Christ

On Christmas Day we celebrated Christ’s birth with a small congregation of about 20 Tanzanians who had been converted from Islam by an evangelist trained through the IBM training programme. His determination to connect with and preach to that community was inspiring, especially after we realised that he had to travel through the mountains on a worn-out motorbike. It was amazing to see the fruits of his labour.

We witnessed some of the successes of the team’s ministry and how the Lord has used them, but we also had an insight into some of the significant challenges they face. This was both inspiring and challenging for us, and we have been convinced we should be using every opportunity to speak to people about our faith and ask questions about theirs; we should be challenging ourselves in what we believe in and seeking God’s guidance for our lives of service. ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Ephesians 2:10).

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